Dr Rodolfo Leyva PhD, MRes, FHEA

Rudy Leyva

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Lecturer Quantitative Methods

Contact details

Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Rodolfo (Rudy) Leyva joined the School of Social Policy in September 2021, as a Lecturer in Quantitative Methods.

Rodolfo is a behavioural-social scientist, with specialisms in cognitive sociology, political-economy, and media psychology. His primary and interdisciplinary research draws on leading theories of ideological hegemony, neurocognition, and enculturation, and employs online experiment and survey methods to investigate the following three social-psychological phenomena. The first entails the effects of the Internet and digital technologies on electoral behaviour and political participation and socialization more broadly. The second concerns the mechanisms through which popular media representations of wealth and outgroups induce corresponding antisocial attitudinal formations and support for punitive welfare and immigration policies. The third pertains to how individuals non-consciously acquire and reproduce free-market values and practices, and the effects of this on the development and enactment of cultural-political attitudes and behaviours needed to address increasing economic inequalities and global warming.


  • Higher Education Academy Fellowship, 2016
  • PhD in Political Sociology, King’s College London, 2013
  • MRes in Education and Social Science, King’s College London, 2008
  • BA in Sociology with Minor in Psychology, University of California Santa Cruz, 2007


Rodolfo has a PhD in Political Sociology from King’s College London (2013). Prior to joining the University of Birmingham, Rodolfo has held academic posts at various British higher education institutions including the University of Warwick (2020-2021), the London School of Economics & Political Science (2017-2021, Birkbeck, University of London (2014-2017), and King’s College London (2011-2014). During this 10-year period, Rodolfo led and taught undergraduate and postgraduate modules in Sociology, Criminology, Economics, Political Philosophy, Media-Communications, and Research Methods.

Rodolfo has also worked on multiple large-scale funded projects that spanned a diverse range of topics and disciplines. From 2020-2021 he assisted the London School of Economics’ ARENA group, as a consultant on cross-national survey studies exploring digital misinformation and news trust in Eastern Europe. Moreover, from 2016-17, he was the lead quantitative researcher for a HORIZONS 2020 project on terrorism and organised crime, and was responsible for creating an international multilingual survey and managing its administration. Prior to this, he worked at Birkbeck University as a post-doctoral research associate on a Leverhulme funded study that examined audiences’ donation and non-generous responses to humanitarian charity media campaigns.

Rodolfo’s primary research has consisted of experimental, survey, and qualitative studies, which have yielded empirical and theoretical insights on 1) the cognitive-affective and social-structural mechanisms that cause individuals to non-consciously acquire and reproduce neoliberal ideology. 2) The minimal effects of social media and digital fake news on elections. And 3), the mechanisms through which prevalent right-wing digital and traditional news outlets generate public hostility towards ethnic outgroups. This research has been published in leading academic journals, as well as reported on by numerous major news outlets from all over the world including, amongst others; the BBC World Service, US World & News Report, The Times, Newsweek, Forbes, The Huffington Post, France 24, The Independent, La Opinion, and the Miami Herald.


Rudy is the co-module leader for the following modules:

  • LC Social Research I (Part 1) B
  • LI Terror, Threat and Security
  • LM Research Design, Practice and Ethics

Postgraduate supervision

Rudy welcomes applications from research students wishing to pursue a quantitative project in any of the following broad areas:

  • Neoliberal Socialisation
  • Effects Of Social Media On Offline Political Engagement
  • Materialistic Values & Climate Change
  • News Priming, Framing, And/Or Cultivation Effects On Attitudinal Development & Behaviours
  • Sociopolitical & Psychological Effects Of Non-Hierarchical Workplace Organisation
  • Determinants Of & National Policies On White-Collar Crime


Research interests

  • Neoliberalism & Corporate Crime
  • Direct Democracy & Civil Disobedience
  • Digital Technologies & Political Participation
  • Cognitive & Analytical Sociology
  • Media Effects On Neurocognition & Enculturation
  • Experimental Social Science

Current projects

Rudy is writing up a monograph on the neuro-cognitive and sociological effects of Western right-wing news consumption. This book will cover the findings and theoretical insights from various experimental studies that he has conducted over the years 2016-2020, and will be published by Routledge in the Autumn of 2022.

Other activities

Rudy is a member of the following professional academic organisations:

  • Sociologists Without Borders
  • International Society of Political Psychology
  • International Association for Media and Communication Research

He is also a peer-reviewer for many leading social science journals including:

  • New Media & Society,
  • International Journal of Communication.
  • Acta Sociologica
  • Political Geography


Leyva, R. (2020). Media Ethics, Regulations, And Effects: How The British Right-Wing Press Disregards All Three & Undermines Democratic Deliberations. Communications Law,25: 79-88.

Leyva, R, & Beckett, C. (2020). Testing & Unpacking The Effects Of Digital Fake News On Presidential Candidate Evaluations & Voter Support. AI & Society, 35: 969-980

Leyva, R. (2019). Brains, Media and Politics: Generating Neoliberal Subjects. London: Routledge

Leyva, R. (2019).Towards A Cognitive-Sociological Theory Of Subjectivity And Habitus Formation In Neoliberal Environments. European Journal of Social Theory, 22: 250-271

Leyva, R. (2018).Experimental Insights Into The Socio-Cognitive Effects Of Viewing Materialistic Media On Welfare Support. Media Psychology, 22: 601–625

Leyva, R. (2018).Unpacking The Usage And Implications Of Neoliberal Language In The Russell Group’s Education Strategies. Šolsko Polje, 29: 77-96

Leyva, R. (2017). Exploring UK Millennials’ Social Media Consumption Patterns And Participation In Elections, Activism And ‘Slacktivism’. Social Science Computer Review, 35: 462-479

King, H, Dawson, E, & Leyva, R. (2015). Highlighting The Wider Relevance Of Science Centre Evaluations: A Reflection On The Evaluation Of A Physics Engagement Programme. Journal of Science Communication, 14:1-18

View all publications in research portal